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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jumping to Conclusions

Of the list of human problems, jumping to conclusions is one of the most primary.  Be they stereotypes, reactions, reflexes, or whatever you want to call them, these mental failings have the ability to unleash horrific consequences.

Most of all, they are often plainly stupid.  There is a difference between leaping out of the way of an oncoming car and assuming that the driver is purposefully trying to kill you.  The driver may have been negligent, intoxicated, having a seizure... but it is easy jump to some kind of conclusion before we have all the information.

Addicts struggle with this all the time.  They are sensitive to the opinions of others (addictions is often empowered by the addict's desire to turn down his sensitivities) and will assume that even a small change in tone or minute expression instantly means the worst for the addict.  Part of sobriety is not making that leap and waiting for more information.

In the era of instant information, we are being consumed by these reactions.  There is a shooting in the news that people have jumped to all kinds of conclusions about long before the investigation is complete.  People are reacting out of stereotypes, both of the shooter and the deceased.

As Christians we must first assume that only God knows the truth about all things.  We know only a little, and while He may reveal a great deal to us, it is minuscule compared to what is out there to know.  We must live in the humility of our proper place: we don't know everything.

If we can accept this premise, then we will have the calmness to examine ideas and concepts beyond our stereotypes.  One great disservice we can do to others is assume that we do not have stereotypes and false conclusions while the other person is rife with them.

Isn't that the heart of Christ's message regarding the logs in our eyes and the splinters in our neighbors'?  Who are we to call someone else a bigot when we ourselves often have bigoted opinions and judge others before we have gotten to know the truth about them?

False assumptions destroy addicts, because they will often use these false opinions to justify their poor circumstances.  This is a profound tragedy and an impediment to spiritual growth.

In as much as we must examine ourselves carefully, we should exercise the same caution when examining the events and people around us, lest we fall into the trap of lazy thinking and falsehood.

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